Drawing the Line?
It has been a parlor game of sorts to guess when—but even more so if—the Europeans (Britain included) will sigh, “Enough is enough,” and so get tough with both their own unassimilated angry Muslim minorities and the radical Islamic world at large. There will never be liberal values in the Middle East, no change, no future—as there would not have been in Hitler’s Germany, as there is not today in Cuba or North Korea—without the defeat of Islamic fascism, in its latest Islamic incarnation, as an ideological force.
The latter always proves more frightening than any caricature, the proverbial wild teenager who starts throwing things when told that his room is a bit messy. The riots in France, murders in Holland, cartoon fiasco in Denmark, bombings in London and Madrid, foiled plots in Germany and Spain, and now the Pope threats—will Europe insidiously bleed from a thousand nicks or take action and call fascists fascists?
And yet what would such spine-strengthening look like?
Closer, albeit still stealthy, ties with the U.S effort? More defense spending? Demands for assimilation or else? More moderate and right-center governments? An end to the EU politically-correct maternalism? An honest foreign policy with the Middle East? A new appreciation for Israel’s woes? Who knows?
But one thing is rather frightening: the political pendulum in Europe always swings much more widely and quickly than here. Unless these legitimate worries about radical Islam are addressed by EU politicians, a frustrated public—note the recent elections in Germany—will address them on their own in ways that are historically scary in their own right. When I go to Europe, I am always struck how at odds the average European’s talk is from what one reads in the newspaper or hears on the television. That degree of frustration and cynicism will only get worse unless there is some honest talk about the dangers Europe faces.
An Acknowledgement—and thanks to the American Street!
In the most recent post, I praised some brave writers, military personnel, the President and a very few others. But, of course, there are millions of Americans that have no tolerance for appeasement. Each day just as candidly they speak out, write, or blog in defense of our old customs and values—in between long hours on the job keeping this country and much of the world running.
I shouldn’t have slighted them by not making explicit reference to their critical role, because in truth I try to read their thoughts in the letters sections of the papers, comments on the web (including every posting in response to this column that prompted this acknowledgment of the error of omission of my part), and emails.
Whom To Fear?
There is an American Street that is a far more powerful, and a more responsible force than any such populace in the Arab world. Like many of you, I tire of hearing “Death to America” from the mobs in Teheran or Jericho, and am sick of the usual coffee-house Middle Eastern hack intellectual that CNN drags out from London, who, during the past 5 years, in his condescension and pompous diction, and in the safety of a host Western humane society, starts listing various perceived grievances against the West, and then issues warnings (!) about the furor of the temperamental “Arab Street.”
I respect and fear the American version far more, because its anger is fueled by reason and is slow and steady and furious when released. The world should not worry when the half-educated, fueled by zealotry and nursed on conspiracy theory, starts chanting; but it should when a rational and patient American slowly fumes and decides he has had it with the Iranian “President”, Hezbollah’s fascism, the various thugs on the West Bank, the Sunni Triangle’s murderers, the primordial of the Hindu Kush, or some subsidized dictator in Pakistan or Egypt lecturing us.
So A Note to the Middle East
To all thinkers of good will and moderation of the Middle East, in exile or in accommodation with a particular awful regime (they are all awful in the most part except in Afghanistan and Iraq): for years you have damned the U.S. for not supporting your “democratic aspirations.” Well, here is the chance. You may not like the “force” involved in, or “the imposition” of, reform, and have dozens of qualifiers why you have abandoned the cause of freedom and the American pressure for consensual government. But this is about as good as you are going to get. If Iraq and Afghanistan don’t work, expect from Washington the reemergence of the old realpolitik of ‘pump oil and keep out commies and run your tribe as you want” school of thought, with the understanding “more rubble, less trouble” will be the new way of dealing from the air with terrorist-sponsoring regimes.
Indeed, nothing has been stranger to see Bush, Rice, and company be ridiculed by both the Left and the Right here at home for the hard task of pressuring Cairo, Damascus, and the Gulf, while spending billions in treasure and thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, to offer an alternative other than strongmen or mullahs—and get absolutely no support from the Arab “reformers,” either because of fear, or utopian perfectionism about the nature of foreign intervention, or the old religion of anti-Americanism.
This was the one recent chance when the United States backed its lofty rhetoric with real sacrifice in the Middle East—but so far the moment is passing and will be replaced by something far worse if it fails. Just remember, should democratization falter, none of us will ever worry much about the cries for reform and democracy from a then truly whiny Arab dissident population, who flees to the West to damn the West for not doing what they themselves, in the manner of our own Founding Fathers, should have done long ago on their own. Nothing to the American character is more grating than perpetual scapegoating for self-induced pathologies, along with constant whining and victimization—and nowhere is that syndrome more common than in the radical Islamic Middle East.